Correcting the Record

Editor, The Wall Street Journal 200 Liberty Street New York , NY 10281 To the Editor: Alberto Alesina and Luigi Zingales say that "this recession is unusual is that it was caused in large part by a significant current-account imbalance due to the low savings rate of Americans (families and government)" (" Let's Stimulate Private Risk Taking," Jan. 21). Not so. A current-account imbalance might reflect conditions that portend recession, but it cannot cause a recession. To see why, suppose that Uncle Sam declares Canada , Europe, China , and Japan to be parts of the United States . With... continue reading
Editor, The Wall Street Journal 200 Liberty Street New York , NY 10281 To the Editor: You report that Barack Obama will call for "a new era of responsibility" (" Obama to Call for a New Era of Responsibility," Jan. 20). His actions belie his words. By seeking an extra $800 billion for "stimulus," Mr. Obama will generate a typhoon of irresponsibility. Consider what Arnold Kling says at the blog EconLog: "How many people will have meaningful input in determining the overall allocation of the billion stimulus? 10? 20? It won't be more than 1000. These people - let's say... continue reading
Editor, The New York Times 229 West 43rd St . New York , NY 10036 To the Editor: Jeremy Weir Alderson says that "the No. 1 reason for imposing higher labor standards on imports isn't to improve living standards abroad but to maintain them here" ( Letters, Jan. 19). It's true that the real motive for such standards is to protect certain producers in America from having to compete with lower-cost rivals. But it's untrue that access to lower-cost sources of goods and services causes poverty in America . The greatest source of lower-cost competition for American producers over the... continue reading
Editor, Washington Post Book World 1150 15th St., NW Washington , DC 20071 Dear Editor: Re: James Q. Wilson's review of Robert Kaiser's "So Damn Much Money" ( "Is Washington for Sale?" Jan. 18): Why are people continually surprised that successful special-interest-group lobbying happens routinely in Washington ? To be shocked by this reality is like being shocked that sex happens in whorehouses. Sincerely, Donald J. Boudreaux Don Boudreaux is the Chairman of the Department of Economics at George Mason University and a Business & Media Institute adviser. continue reading
Editor, The New York Times 229 West 43rd St . New York , NY 10036 To the Editor: You suggest that it might have been "a coincidence" that U.S. Airways' stock price shot up by 13 percent immediately after Cap't. Chesley Sullenberger completed a remarkable emergency landing in the Hudson River ( "In a Split Second, a Pilot Becomes a Hero Years in the Making," Jan. 16). Do you think that it was also a coincidence that Cap't. Sullenberger received telephone calls afterward from both President Bush and President-elect Obama? In fact, both set of events were perfectly predictable. Evidence... continue reading
Editor, The New York Times 229 West 43rd St . New York , NY 10036 To the Editor: Reporting on the recent fall in America 's trade deficit, you quote Barclay's Capital economist Julia Coronado's claim that "It's still a pretty sizable trade deficit, but it's going in the right direction" (" Sharp Drop in Oil Price Helps Shrink Trade Deficit," Jan. 14). Doubtful, especially because this trade-deficit decline was caused, not by a rise in American exports, but by a disproportionately large fall in American imports. Given that in recent decades foreigners consistently pumped significant portions of their dollar... continue reading
Editor, The New York Times 229 West 43rd St . New York , NY 10036 To the Editor: Bob Herbert endorses a tax on financial transactions because, in his view, that's where the money is (" Where the Money Is," Jan. 12). And he even credits Willie Sutton for inspiring this idea. How refreshingly frank. Mr. Herbert doesn't hide the fact that his ethics are those of a bank robber. Sincerely, Donald J. Boudreaux Don Boudreaux is the Chairman of the Department of Economics at George Mason University and a Business & Media Institute adviser. continue reading
Editor, The New York Times 229 West 43rd St . New York , NY 10036 To the Editor: Bob Herbert endorses a tax on financial transactions (" Where the Money Is," Jan. 12). Specifically, he wants a very small tax ("say 0.25 percent") on each of the hundreds of millions of such transactions that occur daily. Surely, reasons Mr. Herbert, such a tiny tax on each transaction would do nothing to discourage legitimate financial transactions, while at the same time – because the number of such transactions is so huge – this tax would rake in immense amounts of revenue... continue reading
Editor, The Washington Times Dear Editor: Joseph P. Carrigan is understandably disturbed that President-elect Obama predicts doom if a new "stimulus" plan isn't enacted ( Letters, January 11). Alas, Mr. Obama is simply following his profession's code of conduct. What H.L. Mencken astutely observed back in 1918 is no less real in 2009: "Civilization, in fact, grows more maudlin and hysterical; especially under democracy it tends to degenerate into a mere combat of crazes; the whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins,... continue reading
Editor, Chicago Tribune Dear Editor: President-elect Obama prescribes fiscal stimulus as the cure for America 's ailing economy ("Obama urges Congress to approve economic recovery plan quickly, support bold investment," Jan. 3). Well let's see. With the exception of a few years during the Clinton administration, the U.S. has run annual budget deficits continuously for the past four decades. And from 2002 through 2008, Uncle Sam ran budget deficits each year, totaling $2.13 TRILLION dollars. That's a frightful amount of fiscal stimulus, and yet the economy today is struggling. Now with the bailout, the budget deficit for 2009 alone is... continue reading